The story of Ursula von der Leyen is a story full of misunderstandings, myths and skilful political PR. If one asks the citizen from the street to Ursula von der Leyen, the following associations usually come: She has made a career “despite” her seven children, she is incredibly successful, a real “power woman” who lies to the conservative family image. Which woman von der Leyen is talking about here? Certainly not by Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen, the woman who is to lead the EU politically in the future.
The Super mother and power daughter
Where the myth of the successful power woman von der Leyen comes from is hard to understand today. Ursula von der Leyen grew up in orderly bourgeois conditions. “Röschen”, as she has been called since small years, is the daughter of the former Lower Saxon Prime Minister Ernst Albrecht, a member of a dynasty that already held key positions in the state under the Welfen kings. As a standard, she married into the dynasty of the “Silk Barons” of the Leyen, who have belonged to the German establishment since the 18th century. If you want to visit Ursula von der Leyen at home, you can drive through family pastures for a long time before being let in at a cast-iron gate to enter the castle-like family estate in Burgdorf-Beinhorn. There is no question that Ursula von der Leyen is the personified upper class, a wet dream of every kitsch novelist. Farther away from the “normal citizen” one can hardly be.
But “Röschen” struck a little bit out of style at first. She dropped out of economics after three years without success, and between her A-levels and her first state examination as a medical doctor there are a proud ten years – complete CVs look different. But Ms. von der Leyen did not have to deal with such profane problems of the ordinary people. During her four years as an assistant doctor, the power woman became pregnant three times and then threw her training as a specialist to move to California with her career-oriented husband.
Ursula von der Leyen was never a power woman who reconciled career and children, but a typical representative of conservative family images who was all too happy to hide behind her successful father and husband. Her meteoric rise began almost twenty years ago, when the now seven-year-old mother fell on her head and followed in father’s footsteps. Thanks to her father’s networks, despite her inexperience, she was not only able to win a secure direct mandate for the Lower Saxony state parliament, but was also immediately appointed As Family Minister by her family friend Christian Wulff – a brilliant PR coup, the Blonde, adorable mother-of-seven with the chastening hairstyle but sold as a symbol of successful conservative ideals. But now things really got going – a year later the “power woman” was elected to the CDU presidency and two years later she already delighted the republic as Federal Minister for Families in Angela Merkel’s cabinet.
There, she made headlines in the classical media not so much for her political work, which hardly exists on closer inspection, but above all for her “soft skills”. Ursula von der Leyen succeeded in stagetheting as a mother of seven who reconciles family and career. From then on, the “Powermutti” was seen as a model for all women; also for those who, unlike von der Leyen, cannot rely on a whole army of domestic workers.
From ice-cold angel to Germanic falcon
In fact, the Ministry of Family Affairs is a safe bank. But Ursula von der Leyen crossed the line by getting involved in a campaign to introduce Internet bans without any need. “Zensursula” was born. Even during her time as Minister of Labour, von der Leyen did not do a proper job. The “ice-cold angel of the unemployed” put himself in the spotlight mainly by selling tough measures against materially less well-off people with a sugar-sweet smile and to present himself as a lawyer for the “poor children”.
Her complete failure in the office of the Federal Minister of Defence threatened to become a career slump. “Röschen” von der Leyen actually did pretty much everything wrong here. The role profile of a defence minister includes, first and foremost, the balance between the commercial interests of the arms lobby, the material wishes of the armed forces and the financial interests of taxpayers. Accordingly, the task profile for Ursula von der Leyen was also clear. It was intended to eliminate the personnel and equipment problems that became increasingly apparent under its predecessors. Judging by this task, von der Leyen has failed all along the track. Although more and more money is being poured into the military budget, the Bundeswehr’s equipment and logistics problems are now worse than ever.
Instead of addressing the underlying problems politically, von der Leyen hired a whole army of consultants from well-known law firms and consulting firms for a nine-figure budget, whose task was also and above all to conceal the minister’s failure. and to sell them positively at the expense of taxpayers. At least the latter succeeded. Despite the insufficient proof of performance, von der Leyen remained in office and may now only be saved by taking over the highest political office in the EU from the Committee of Inquiry into the Advisory Affair.
More dramatic than her political failure, however, is her ideological orientation, which has become increasingly radicalized, especially during her time on the Hardthöhe and in the Bendlerblock. Ursula von der Leyen is a foreign and security hawk who has fully joined the transatlantic NATO strategy, stands without ifs and buts behind the model of militarisation of the EU and is entering a new era with a “policy of strength” for the West. cold war with Russia.
None of this has done much to detract from their popularity – on the contrary. It is particularly popular with the Yellow Press. Those who know the names of the Swedish royal children by heart also love the noble mother with the charming smile and the noble predicate. And even the so-called quality newspapers only touch Ursula von der Leyen with the glacé glove.
President von der Leyen - powered by AfD?
The nomination of the Leyens as the candidate of the Heads of State or Government for the post of future President of the Commission is not the first grotesque in last week’s major European personnel carousel. Initially, “top candidate” Manfred Weber failed in the previously announced resistance of Emmanuel Macron. Then Merkel, Macron and co. conjured up the second “top candidate” Frans Timmermanns in distant Osaka, who was somehow too critical and democratic for the reactionary Eastern European leaders, as he had in the past democratic values in Hungary and Poland. The lesson – those who stand up for democracy have no chance in the EU. It is both absurd and sad.
Then, of course, Ursula von der Leyen came as called. To the reactionary Eastern Europeans she is to be sold as an arch-conservative “Russian eater”, but to the liberal Scandinavians and Western Europeans she is regarded as a “power woman” and even Italy’s head of government Conti finally liked von der Leyen – it is already becoming rumoured that the price will be an Italian budget commissioner. Compromises are not always good.
Very disappointing deal of the Council. This is old Europe at its worst. A backdoor deal with candidates emerging to please the national leaders from Germany, France and Spain. This is not the change that was promised to European voters. EP should not follow.— Bas Eickhout (@BasEickhout) July 2, 2019
However, it is completely unclear how Ursula von der Leyen now wants to get the necessary majority in the European Parliament. Surely she will be the votes of the Christian Democrat EPP (CDU and Co.), the liberal Renew (Macron, FDP and Co.) and the right-wing conservative ECR group (including the Polish PiS and the British Tories). That’s a total of 352 votes. However, it needs 376 votes for a necessary majority. The SPD has already stated that it will not be supported by the Leyen and the S&D Group in the European Parliament has already expressed its opposition. The situation is similar for the Greens. Their “top candidates” Bas Eickhout and Ska Keller were even “shocked” by the government’s proposal.
Amtlich: Die Grünen werden von der Leyen als Kommissionschefin ablehnen. „Grotesk“ nennt Fraktionschefin Ska Keller den Deal des EU-Gipfels: pic.twitter.com/iT48rCHU3H— Stefan Leifert (@StefanLeifert) July 2, 2019
The question remains as to where von der Leyen wants to get the remaining votes needed. The left will certainly not vote for her, and the “non-attached,” especially Nigel Farage’s Brexit party and the Italian Five Stars, are unlikely to win a majority. All that remains is the ‘identity and democracy’ group, i.e. the parties commonly referred to as ‘right-wing populists’. Without the votes of Salvini’s Lega, Straches FPÖ, Le Pen’s collection movement and the German AfD, von der Leyen will have little chance of being elected by parliament.
In the ‘best case’, therefore, it will fail in the European Parliament and the Heads of State will have to unleash a new candidate. At worst, she will become President of the Commission with the votes of the far-right. Then, post-firm and needlessly, the concerns would have been confirmed that Europe would slip far to the right. A black-brown market-compliant Europe with an ice-cold angel at the helm, militarizing the former peace project and fighting with the US for “freedom and democracy” all over the world … If I think of Europe at night, then I am put to sleep. I hope that the European Parliament will now show that it is more than just staffing.